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The Female Ambassadors of Helly Hansen Workwear Canada

In order to develop gear that is trusted by professionals on worksites around the world, Helly Hansen relies on the insights of those who are masters of their craft and are dedicated to paving the way for others in their industry. As hardworking and driven individuals, the following three women all have their own unique stories to tell. Working in a predominately male-driven industry, each of them has had to overcome adversity to achieve success in their current roles. As professionals in their trade, Helly Hansen is proud to align with these women and to promote their successes.

The Female Ambassadors of Helly Hansen Workwear Canada

 
Magali Côté – Rope Access Supervisor

Magali-Côté

 

It is very common to use scaffolds, scissor lifts or elevated work platforms to reach elevated work areas. Other times, it’s impossible to use those systems and this is where Côté fits in – and where rope access becomes handy. As a Rope Access Supervisor, Côté is equipped with rigging and has the skill set to operate it, the experience to evaluate every situation, and to pick the safest way to achieve the job scope in a timely manner. She performs construction, inspection, maintenance and everything in between for those hard-to-reach places. She considers elevated structures to be her jungle gym and enjoys that each day is different.

 

How did you get into the profession?
MC: An unusual career path and the desire to surpass myself constantly guided me towards Rope Access. I first started as a welder/commercial diver and progressed as a Millwright/welder when I first moved to British Columbia from Québec. It did not take long for me to notice a group of workers hanging off their ropes and it reminded me of commercial diving with the hardhat, umbilical, and tools attached and hanging off my waist – I missed it a lot.

 

What does a “day in the job” look like?
MC: The “job” is never the same. Rarely, we will have the same task day after day. In general, as a Rope Access Supervisor, I am responsible for the worker’s safety while performing their trade’s tasks hanging off ropes – I like to say that we are specialists of accessing work areas where people can’t go with usual machinery. My responsibility as a Rope Access Supervisor is to look at the job and figure out how we will access it safely. I need to be aware of all the workplace hazards and discover the ones nobody has pointed out yet.

 

What is it like to be a woman in the industry?
MC: This is a question that keeps coming back in my life, since I started working as a teenager. My first jobs were all labor-oriented and working physically has always been a big part of my day-to-day role. There has been a certain period in my life when I did not exactly know how to blend or fit in; and the reality is that we don’t but we do. For instance, I noticed women seem to always have a different approach on problem solving and planning. Generally (not always the case), men rely more on strength, and tend to use their muscles, but women often find a way to do things using mechanical advantages like pulleys and such. Both ways work great, and I see this as a strength and when mixed with a great group of men, it becomes a strong and knowledgeable team that can move forward. Overall, I want the world to understand that women can do big, dangerous, exciting, wonderful and difficult things. Empowering women to pursue careers and hobbies in male dominated fields is something I constantly strive for.

 

Tori Frank – Carpenter

Tori-Frank

 

Tori Frank is a Journeyman Carpenter where strategy and planning are crucial in her position, but she also relies heavily on the trust built between her colleagues and leadership team. At 25 years old, Frank already has a wealth of experience in the construction field. As a Journeyman Carpenter, Frank now works at a plant in Fort Saskatchewan setting up changerooms and lunchrooms for local workers, and loves the problem-solving aspects that she often encounters through her day-to-day.

 

How did you get into the profession?
TF: My venture into the industry came when I began cutting grass with a local company in my hometown. I fondly recall the satisfaction that came from the position in spite of early mornings, long days and sore feet. Soon after, I accepted a role with the same company working with heavy equipment, and later working with the surveyors. Fascinated by the planning and development aspects, I applied to college for a pre-employment carpentry program and was soon hired in my trade by a large commercial company.

 

Describe the importance of the gear you wear:
TF: As a victim of frostbite and not being aware of the importance of rugged winter clothing, my work clothing is just as important as my tools, and investing in my work clothes really does make the difference in -40C. For me, Helly Hansen base layers have been my constant. In my position as a carpenter, I’m often sweating and in need of a garment that will keep me dry and comfortable throughout the day. Just as important as the base layers, having a shell that is waterproof, windproof and breathable is just as important.

 

What is is like to be a woman in the industry?
TF: As a woman working in a predominantly male industry, I have faced many challenges throughout my journey in the construction world. Most often, I have encountered co-workers who assume that I am not capable of numerous types of jobs due to my small stature. But what I may lack in height and bulk, I make up for with a positive attitude and determination. The biggest thing I have learned is to always remain calm and let your work speak for itself. I had many days coming home crying because I was sore or because I couldn’t lift as much as the men on the crew – but it comes with time and never giving up!

 

Jessica Bannister – HVAC

Jessica-Bannister

 

Jessica Bannister is a commercial HVAC Apprentice, creator of the HVAC Diaries on YouTube and is currently the President of Women in HVAC/R Canada. Bannister is a third generation HVAC contractor; behind her father and her brother. Bannister wishes to bring awareness to women in the trades, specifically women in HVAC-R encouraging young people (girls especially) to consider it as a career option. Bannister finds working in the field as a commercial/industrial HVAC technician challenging and rewarding. No two days are ever the same and she is constantly learning.

 

How did you get into the profession?
JB: My dad has always been an HVAC mechanic, my brother followed in his footsteps right after high school and after spending 10+ years in corporate I’ve finally joined the family trade. I started out in the office at Cam Cool Refrigeration, but after a few ride-alongs (to get an idea of what my dad’s days were like), I quickly learned that I preferred to be out of the office fixing HVAC equipment rather than being in the office behind a computer. Spending more time “on the tools” than “on the books” helped me decide to register as an HVAC Apprentice here in BC and become a fully qualified technician. Knowing what I know now, I wish I had started earlier.

 

What do your most challenging days on the job look like?
JB: A challenging day may include a difficult, challenging job made more tiresome by having to climb up (and sometimes across) a long roof with all my equipment, supplies & materials, etc. Sometimes just setting up for your job can be very tiring. Challenging days can be made ever more challenging with difficult or unhappy customers.

 

What is it like to be a woman in the industry?
JB: I think there’s never a better time to be a woman in this industry. There are still very few female faces in HVAC, but there are more today than last year! My experience so far (I’ve been an apprentice for three years) has been good – most people are interested and intrigued by my career choice. They want to know more about the organization I’m part of, Women in HVAC/R Canada, and ask how they can get involved. While there are still so few of us, it’s becoming more normal to see women on various job sites and working for suppliers. We can do everything that our male counterparts can do, and when it comes to physical strength, there are tools and techniques to help us overcome that too. For those of us willing to put themselves out there, it is important for others to see us in our everyday jobs so that it becomes more of a “normal thing”.


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